Another minor character that Austen crafted to challenge the status quo is Mrs Crofts from Persuasion. Mrs Crofts’ marriage is equal as well as romantic and adventurous. She has “crossed the Atlantic four times” with the admiral and was “shrewd” and “seemed more conversant with business” than her husband the admiral.
Jane Austen is portraying a very competent and happy woman here, able to participate in seafaring, one of the most difficult and dangerous occupations of the time. Continue reading
A very minor character, Discontented-Wife Mary, in Persuasion, highlights Austen’s craft. Discontented-Wife Mary is an often disappointed and unhappy character. Recall she is a member of the self important Elliot clan who think they are above others. The 18th century was a hierarchy based on land and the Elliots were at the top of the status stakes. In this society even the order of entering a room was based on the social hierarchy. As the daughter of a Baronet, Discontented-Wife Mary, could pull rank over her in-laws, and constantly did. Continue reading
What a great question and thanks to Sarah Macdonald for her opinion piece on this issue. (See below for a link to the original article.)
But the question I want to ask is, are we confusing happiness with ambition? And has Austen got something to say here? (Sorry dear reader but you knew I would find something!)
Nightmare-Wife-Mrs Bennet, from Pride and Prejudice is unashamedly ambitious for her girls. If she can only have her girls married, “she will have nothing to wish for”. Here our sympathy is understandable. Women had few choices and as daughters were
Emma, our spoilt princess, lives a quiet life with her father, her mother having died when she was but a young child. Her sister has married and moved to London. When Emma was twelve, she had become the mistress of the house. “The real evils indeed of Emma’s situation were the power of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself.” And so a friend close by and malleable was naturally attractive, to our spoilt princess, socially superior but with time on her hands, adopts the attractive, pleasant and Malleable-Harriet. Continue reading
sally hawkins and rupert penry-jones filming persuasion (Photo credit: Owen Benson Visuals)
Why is it that when we really like someone we can hardly speak, let alone tell the target of our fantasies of our feelings? Yet this can be crucial. It is humbling to put yourself out there and it is one big risk. But courage is necessary and the results can be revolutionary. Continue reading
Random Thoughts of Kindness Barnstar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As the happy recipient of a random act of kindness yesterday, I’m pondering on such acts in the Austen Six. The winner has to be Decent-and-Dependable-Colonel Brandon, who presents a living (in today’s speak a job) to Honourable-Edward Ferrars. Edward was disinherited by his aspirational mother, Ambitious-Matriarch-Mrs Ferrars, after acting honourably by Lucy Steele.
Colonel Brandon wasn’t friends with Edward; he had just met him a few times and had heard his heartfelt story second hand but wanted to help. In the Austen Six those who act well by their fellow man Continue reading
Wedding (Photo credit: teresachin2007)
Upon reading Hannah Seligson’s, The Me, Me, Me Wedding, and learning of the export of the western Bridezilla phenomenon to other cultures, I am reminded of the last words of Austen’s Emma:
The wedding was very much like other weddings, where the parties have no taste for finery or parade; and Mrs. Elton, from the particulars detailed by her husband, thought it all extremely shabby, and very inferior to her own.—”Very little white satin, very few lace veils; a most pitiful business!— Continue reading
The promise of the fruit to come
The Austen household (Jane, Cassanandra, her mother and her friend Martha Lloyd) relied heavily on what was in season and the kitchen garden was crucial to a healthy life. Like many of the middling people of the time who were neither rich, nor the working poor, they were able to live comfortably on very good home produced food with only the staples of tea, coffee, chocolate, sugar, spices and citrus fruits that had to be bought. Cassandra kept bees while Mrs Austen kept a poultry yard. Often presents of game would be sent from their brothers, Edward and James.
Growing and cooking your own food was like breathing and is so different from the world of today where many of us have lost the art of cooking let alone growing and catching our own food. Continue reading
Jane Austen nephews and nieces (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Some biographers, taking a few letters out of context have assumed she didn’t. Rubbish! Jane Austen was a revered Aunt; she was a loved Aunt; she was a sought-after aunt. You don’t get to be such an aunt if you do not like children. It is just that she didn’t idealise children. In one of her letters to her brother James she says, we saw “a countless number of Postchaises full of Boys pass by yesterday morng – full of Heroes, legislators, Fools & Villains.” In the privileged world in which Jane was an observer, children were often put on pedestals by their affluent parents. It was not so very different from today Continue reading